Jedi Training

May 23, 2011 by

By Lisa Campion

When I was little, I wanted to go to The Jedi Academy more then anything in the world. I was just a young Padawan when the first Star Wars movie came out and I think I saw it about twelve times that summer. Hey, what can I say? Back then there was no such thing as videos, so if you wanted to see a movie, it is was the theatre or nothing. Plus, I was about twelve years old and already a Sci Fi Geek of Major Proportions. This trait I have passed down to one of my kids, who is also a Geekazoid. We geek out on Dr. Who together and have a private language that only he and I speak. It’s all odd movie references tied up together into some serious Geek Speak. No one else understands this private language but we sure have a lot of fun with it.

Oddly enough, right before this same child was born, I had a dream where we were tying to enroll him into Star Fleet Academy and he said to me “No way Mom, I want to be a Jedi and go to the Jedi Academy. Star Fleet is for sissies.” So there you have it. A geek in making even from utero.

Don’t worry though, I passed down some other sterling qualities of mine to my other kids. Number Two Son got my Love of Shoes gene. (He currently has about about 100 pairs of Nikes…) And my adorable daughter got my Chameleon Hair gene. Her’s is currently a lovely shocking pink and she is only twelve years old. It’s very gratifying as a parent. I am so proud… Geek status, shoe passion and neon hair, my legacy to my children.

But back to the Jedis. My favorite of the Star Wars movies is The Empire Strikes Back, since that is the one where Luke gets his Jedi training from Yoda. It all made total sense to me. I KNEW somewhere in me that I could levitate, move objects, light candles with my mind if only I could find someone groovy enough to teach me how. A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, there is an charming little muppet of a Jedi master just waiting to unravel the mysteries of the universe just for me, if only I could get there.

Star Wars was like a religion to me. It all seemed so obvious. There is The Force and it has a Light side and a Dark side. We all have both inside us and we have to choose moment by moment which side we are on. I instinctively knew that the Light was a harder master and the way of the Light was much more difficult. I also knew that the Dark side was seductive and looked good on the outside with it’s promises of power but that it corrupted if you gave into it. Spiritual warrior training is never what you think it’s going to be. It’s way more magical, amusing and powerful then I ever imagined. When it’s not kicking my bootay.

Obi Wan Kenobi and Qui Gon Jinn are huge heros of mine. I love their power, courage and most of all their equanimity. They face everything with peace in their minds and hearts, even their own deaths. On some deep level I wanted that, I yearned to become like that. I was sure that yy mitoclorians were noff the charts. And just think what you could do with some Jedi mind trick mojo. “Dear IRS, these aren’t the taxes you are looking for. Move along…”

This crazy desire to be a Jedi knight and fight for the forces of the Light is what propelled me to study marital arts, which I did all through college. I think it was the closest I could get here on Planet Earth. I studied Okinawan Gojo Ryu. It was old school marital arts training, very traditional Okinawan stuff, straight out of the Karate Kid. In fact the movie Karate Kid was based on my style. Wax on, wax off, all that curricular movement is Goju Ryu. The founder of my style was Miyagi Chojun Sensei and it was fun that they named the Sensei in the movie after him.

I studied for a bunch of years in college with a very cool guy and then moved to Japan where my Sensei was about as Yoda as could be. He is a Buddhist monk and a Chi Gong master and I earned my black belt for a second time while I was there.

Here is a funny story about how Jedi Karate training broke my ego. When I was studying karate in college I failed my black belt test the first time I took it. I was about 19 years old, maybe twenty and pretty cocky. I paid no attention to the immortal words of Han Solo, “Don’t get cocky kid.” I had lovely technique and did beautiful “kata” (forms) although I was not much of a fighter. I was sure I would pass with flying colors. My Sensei, who was a wise and wily teacher, failed me and told me that I had great technique but had to work on my “attitude.” It was a test about my commitment to my training, although I didn’t know it at the time. I imagine he was checking to see if I would give up and not come back. If I was in it for ego glory then I wouldn’t be back. It was a good test for me and it broke me.

I was crushed and devastated. I cried and moped. But it really made me think. Why was I doing this? What did I really want out of training? Was it ego glory and a place in the prestigious Black Belt class? Or was I there for a deeper purpose? I swallowed my massive pride (no doubt it gave me indigestion) and came back to training, watching all my friends and peers pass me by in the ranks and make it to legendary Black Belt Class. I was sure that I would be humiliated and shamed in the dojo, having failed so spectacularity, but of course no one really cared about it but me. It was easier then I thought, to let that go, once my ego was broken.

Over the next year I stayed a brown belt and worked with a lot of junior students, teaching and training hard myself. I trained six days week for at least two hours a day. Many junior students passed me by in their tests. Black Belt class filled up and I stayed behind. Sensei never asked me to test again. I just kept coming and working hard, my ego down to nothing.

One day out of the blue when I had stopped even thinking about it, Sensei gave me my black belt, with a smile and a wink. I had passed the test without ever taking it. Once I got that coveted black belt, I hardly ever wore it. I would just train in just a tee shirt and gi pants. After all that ego breaking, I couldn’t get too excited about my black belt as a status symbol, it had lost the glamour. After all a belt is just something to hold your pants up. Or in this case, something to hold your gi closed. In the old days, in Okinawa, you got a black belt by training for 25 years and never washing your belt. The belt got dirtier and dirtier, a testament to hard work, sweat, blood and mostly patience and humility.

Of course black belt class was nothing like what I expected. Instead of feeling like I had arrived at a place where I knew everything, I realized that I knew NOTHING! This was a whole new world of training, and I was at the bottom again, humbly knowing nothing. So I had no problem when I moved to Japan and started training in a new dojo as a white belt again.

Living in Japan was an amazing experience worthy of it’s own story. Certainly Hirakawa Sensei was an incredible friend to me, and a remarkable teacher, he taught me so much more then Karate. I learned about body awareness, energy and how to move it through my body. It was great training for a psychic, really. To be that grounded in my body and confident in the world has been a blessing to me and although I worked hard for it, it was worth every drop of sweat. After all a good Jedi knows that nothing worth anything comes without hard work. A Jedi works hard at what needs to be done and doesn’t complain.

So that unlikely Jedi training was one of the most powerful lessons I have ever had in my life. I never really lost that feeling of humility and the clear certain fact that I know nothing. Whatever I know is just a drop in the bucket. I am a tiny little fish in the cosmos and there is always a bigger fish. I still feel like a perpetual white belt. And I am totally down with that. I like white belt status. There is less pressure and more fun. And no need to carry a big heavy ego around with you.

One of the coolest things about training in our dojo was the greeting we used before you practiced with anyone. You would bow, keeping eye contact, and say in Japanese, “Onigashimas.” It means, “Please teach me” and you must mean it truly, even if you are a black belt training with a white belt on their first day, since everyone always teaches us something. This greeting reminds us to check our egos at the door, to humbly admit that we have something to learn from everyone, if we move through the world with our minds and hearts open.

I can imagine Obi Wan and Qui Gon Jinn nodding in approval. Spiritual warrior training, even Jedi level training is right here for us, all the time, happening organically in our lives, if we want to answer the call. I believe that all of us have these moments of spiritual warrior training and our own spiritual warrior heros. Who are yours and what has your warrior training been like? Think about it. They might be pretty unlikely people but have taught you something. I am still looking for Yoda, since levitation is high on my must have Jedi skills. Let me know if you see him around!

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